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Bad Medicine

According to the WHO, 60% of fake medicine cases occur in developing countries, and the other 40% in developed countries. In the case of the former, as much as 25% of medicines consumed are counterfeit or substandard. In the Philippines, at least 8% of the drugs bought in a year (1995 alone) were fake. Watch out for the drugs that can kill you.



Using Google’s search engine to check “Viagra,” over 11,500,000 online sites were listed – which, when narrowed down to “Buy Viagra,” still yielded 5,530,000 sites, testament, if any, to the prescription drug’s popularity, and, to a certain extent, easy accessibility.

But, be warned, not all Viagra (sildenafil citrate) tablets sold are authentic. According to the Florida Statewide Pharmaceutical Services and Drug Wholesaler Advisory Council in the US, of the 32 top counterfeited drugs, sexual potency drugs (Pfizer Inc.’s Viagra and Lilli ICOS’ Cialis) come second only to cholesterol-inducing medication Lipitor (atorvastatin), so that even the World Health Organization (WHO) admits that Viagra is “one of the most counterfeited drugs today.”

This may be because, since it was first distributed in 1998 as the first medicine developed for erectile dysfunction, over 170 million prescriptions have already been prescribed by 600,000 doctors. Roughly, this means that about nine Viagra tablets are sold every second somewhere in the world, making the medicine one of the most popular drugs ever.

And so is stressed the worrying pervasiveness of fake medicines.

Source: Bureau of Food and Drugs and the Department of Health (February 18, 2005)

In a report titled Combating Counterfeit Medicine, the WHO stated that the production, distribution, and sales of counterfeit medicines, which have been dramatically rising in recent years, matter because its implications are wide, and often connected – from health implications by disregarding patient safety, and increasing morbidity and mortality rates; and, subsequently, having economic implications because of the wastes of already limited government resources for health.

All these, adds the WHO, easily jeopardize the development of the medicine industry itself.


In the Philippines, to battle the proliferation of fake medicines , 12 organizations from various industries formed the Coalition Against Fake Medicines (CAFM). Government agencies Department of Health (DOH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) joined forces with medical groups Philippine Medical Association (PMA), Philippine Pharmaceutical Association (PPHA), Drugstores Association of the Philippines (DSAP), Mercury Drug Corporation, Watson’s Personal Care Stores, Zuellig Pharma Corporation, and Pfizer Inc., as well as major media players Philippine Daily Inquirer, and GMA 7 Broadcast Network . While the overall goal is to enforce existing laws against counterfeiting, CAFM also aims to increase awareness of the problem among the consumers with the hope that they, themselves, will be able to correctly determine the authenticity of the medicines they are buying, and will thus not be victimized by counterfeiters.

“(While) medicines play a critical role in curing and controlling diseases and consequently in improving lives, it is very important to differentiate real from fake medicines. The medicine you are buying from unscrupulous vendors may not only aggravate your health, but it can also lead to your untimely death,” the group says in a prepared statement.

The worry is but rightly so, what with data on the proliferation of fake medicines staggering. The WHO believes counterfeits make up between 5% and 8% of the $550 billion worth of medicines annually sold worldwide. 60% of counterfeit medicine cases actually occur in least developed and developing countries, with anti-malarials, antibiotics, and HIV and AIDS drugs among those targeted by suppliers. Overall, this industry is worth over $35 billion.

According to the WHO, 60% of fake medicine cases occur in developing countries, and the other 40% in developed countries. In the case of the former, as much as 25% of medicines consumed are counterfeit or substandard. In the Philippines, at least 8% of the drugs bought in a year (1995 alone) were fake.

Adds the WHO, 60% of fake medicine cases occur in developing countries, and the other 40% in developed countries.  In the case of the former, as much as 25% of medicines consumed are counterfeit or substandard.  In the Philippines, at least 8% of the drugs bought in a year (1995 alone) were fake.

As if further stressing how the available figures are not scary enough, various cases from all over the world show how bad the effects of counterfeit medicines can be – e.g. In 1995, an inactive meningitis vaccine containing only water was used to treat up to 80,000 people in Niger, and thousands died from the fake vaccine’s ineffectivity; and in 2001, more than one-third of antimalarial artesunate products in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam contained no active ingredients.


The CAFM, intends to also empower the consumers by educating them. The alliance has created a toll free hotline – 1-800-10-FAKEMED (3253-633) – for any consumer in doubt about the authenticity of bought medicine; and has been circulating materials on counterfeit drugs to branches of Mercury Drug and member drugstores of the DSAP to help consumers distinguish fake medicines from the genuine ones.

According to the coalition, making a distinction between fake medicines from the real ones is never easy, so that even buying from reputable drugstores is no guarantee, particularly since the producers of fake medicines make their products look as similar as the real ones as possible. There are, however, some obvious identifiers noticeable among fake medicine supplies intercepted by authorities, including the differences in the color or texture of the tablet, capsule, or ampoule, and/or its content from the ones a regular consumer usually buys, brand names that are bigger than the generic names, and the absence of generic names.

CAFM suggests for consumers to “check the medicine’s BFAD-registration, as well as taking note of the lot/batch number and expiration date of drugs bought, since, generally, only genuine drugs comply with this specification that is also stipulated in the law.” When still in doubt, consumers are advised to discontinue use, and present unused medicines with the receipt to authorities for proper action.

Vigilance is the winning strategy against counterfeit medicines, since “combating counterfeit medicines is a never ending battle,” as stated by the WHO. And for it to work, “it is not only the responsibility of medicines regulatory authority, (but the) coordinated efforts of multiple partners, including law enforcement agencies, health professionals, consumers, and other relevant stakeholders, is needed.”

M.D. dela Cruz Tan is the founder of Zest Magazine. And no, the initials (i.e. M.D.) do not make him a "medical doctor" (as many have erroneously thought in the past); he is actually a graduate of Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales Australia (just don't ask when, he says). He can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (of course), shoot flicks, community-organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies under his belt)... this one's a multi-tasker, who is even conversant in Filipino Sign Language. Cross his path is the dare (read: It won't be boring).

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5 Tips For Proper Oral Care

It’s crucial that you practice proper oral care, by following these habits.



They’re incredibly important, yet so many people take them for granted—our teeth. A healthy smile is an important part of your overall health since your teeth are such an important and useful part of your body.

It’s crucial that you practice proper oral care, by following these habits.

Always Brush Before Bed

Dentists recommend brushing your teeth three times a day to ensure you remove harmful buildup. However, not everyone manages to make it to three, which isn’t the end of the world. Yet, if there’s one of these three brushing times that you absolutely can’t get away with skipping, it’s nighttime.

At night, your teeth have all of the food that you ate throughout the day, and also germs that cause bad breath. When you go to bed without brushing you’re allowing all of that to sit on your teeth for the duration of however long you sleep, which is usually about 8 hours. Yuck!

Visit Your Dentist

Brushing your teeth daily is already a great step towards overall tooth health. However, there are some things that a toothbrush simply can’t do. It’s important that you see a dentist regularly to get cleanings and address dental issues.

Sometimes despite our best efforts to brush, we still develop cavities. Unfortunately, this is just the way things are. A dentist can help us identify these cavities, and fill them as soon as possible so they don’t turn into something more serious like a root canal.


Despite having the best toothbrush on the market, there are crevices and cracks in your mouth that even the best toothbrush can’t touch. In addition to brushing, you should make sure that you floss.

Flossing won’t just reduce your risk of developing cavities, but it can significantly improve your breath. There are all sorts of germs and bacteria lurking in between your teeth, and flossing can get rid of that. If you notice that your breath still isn’t entirely fresh even after brushing, then pull out the floss and you’ll notice a big difference.

Avoid Sugar

There are plenty of things that are less than ideal for your health. However, most health professionals agree that one of the worst things for you is sugar and your dentist feels the same. The less sugar you eat, the healthier your teeth will be, as sugar eats away at your tooth enamel.

If you do eat sugar, make sure that you brush your teeth after. One of the worst things you can do is eat sticky candy which leaves behind residue on your teeth and is the perfect recipe for cavities.

Avoid Acidic Foods

In addition to sugary foods, acidic foods are also your teeth’s worst enemy. From coffee to citrus fruits, limit the number of acidic beverages and foods you consume, and your tooth enamel will greatly thank you for it!

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Tips for walking 20,000 steps a day

To walk 20,000 steps a day you’ll need to cover a total of 10 miles. This may seem like a lot, but it’s actually not as difficult as it sounds.



Photo by Sincerely Media from

To walk 20,000 steps a day you’ll need to cover a total of 10 miles. This may seem like a lot, but it’s actually not as difficult as it sounds. Here are a few tips to help you reach your goal:

Invest in a Good Pair of Shoes

The first step to walking 20,000 steps a day is to make sure you have the right equipment. Investing in a good pair of walking shoes will help to prevent blisters and injuries, and make the walk more comfortable overall.

Make Walking Part of Your Daily Routine

To reach your 10-mile goal every day, make walking a part of your daily routine. This might mean taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator, or parking farther away from where you’re going so that you have to walk more. You can also try waking up a few minutes earlier each morning to fit in a walk before you start your day.

Join a Walking Group

If you’re having trouble finding time to fit in 10 miles each day, consider joining a walking group or taking part in a local 5k race. This will help keep you motivated and provide social support along the way.

Start Small

Don’t try to walk 20,000 steps all at once. Start with a smaller goal, such as 5,000 steps per day, and gradually increase your mileage as you become more fit. This will help you avoid injury and burnout.

Stay Hydrated

Make sure to stay hydrated while walking by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This will help you feel more energized and prevent dehydration-related issues, such as muscle cramps or fatigue.

The Bottom Line – BetterMe Can Help You Walk More, Every Day

If you’re looking to improve your overall health, walking 20,000 steps a day can help. This simple form of exercise offers a host of health benefits, from improved sleep and digestion to reduced stress and anxiety. To reach your goal, use the BetterMe Blog as a guide and stay committed every day. With enough dedication, you can achieve your fitness goals and transform your body for the better.

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How can the self-employed tackle burnout? Expert shares top tips

Self-employed people such as business owners or freelancers may be more susceptible to burnout due to long working hours and the weight of responsibility that they carry.



Photo by Nubelson Fernandes from

With workers returning to the office in their greatest numbers since the pandemic, the number of people suffering from burnout or stress-related illnesses is also on the rise.

Self-employed people such as business owners or freelancers may be more susceptible to burnout due to long working hours and the weight of responsibility that they carry. 

For many work and life have become intertwined, fortunately, Private Rehab Clinic Delamere has shared tips on how you can tackle burnout when self-employed and the common signs.  

How you can tackle burnout

1. Set Goals and Priorities

Having a mountain of work, with no plan in place to move forward can sometimes feel overwhelming. It can help to take a step back to assess which of your tasks need prioritising, and which ones will help you to achieve your goals.  

2. Speak to Your Colleagues or Clients

Being honest with the people that you are working with or for, about your mental health can often make things a lot a lot easier. You may be surprised at how understanding other people are of your situation.

By being open with others, you will have a better understanding of what to expect from each other, meaning that you will have a stronger professional relationship going forward.

3. Ask for Help

Never be afraid to ask for help if you feel that your stress is becoming too much to handle and you start to show signs of burnout. Getting external advice through counselling or therapy can give you a new perspective on a situation to guide you through any problems.

If you do not feel comfortable with counselling, then simply reaching out to friends and family can be enough to help you talk through your problems.

4. Schedule Time-Off

Sometimes when work life is becoming too stressful, all you need to do is take a short break from it all. Returning to work after a much-needed break can give a person a more positive mindset.

Those who are self-employed are often in charge of their own schedule and can over look the need to take holidays. In fact, some surveys have shown that nearly one in ten business owners go up to five years without taking a holiday.

5. Consider Changing Things

If your line of work is causing you constant stress and it feels that there truly is no way out, then it may be worth considering if you are genuinely following the right career path for you.

It may be the case that you do not need to change your career path altogether, but that your daily work routine simply needs to be altered. Consider making small changes such as your place of work. If you are stuck in an office or at home all day, you may benefit from finding a co-working space or coffee shop to work in.

Sometimes changes can be as simple as investing in new equipment or simply taking more regular breaks from your working day. By implementing these small changes you are less likely to burnout from stress.

6. Put Self-Care First

Work-life can be demanding, especially for any self-employed people who are under pressure to meet deadlines for various clients. However, when we demand too much of ourselves, it can be damaging to our physical and mental health.

Remind yourself that you come first. Maintaining a healthy sleeping and eating pattern, while keeping up a rewarding social life and strong relationships is more important to your mental well-being than anything you do while on the clock. 

Spotting the signs of burnout

1. Feeling Tired All The Time

If you are waking up feeling exhausted and find that you are still feeling drained even after you have been awake for a few hours and a cup of coffee in your system, then this may be a sign that you have burnout.

2. Lack of Motivation

During burnout, a person may find themselves completely withdrawn from their workplace or work tasks. Simply going through the motions while at work without any kind of motivation – or taking no joy whatsoever from your accomplishments at work – could indicate that you are experiencing burnout.

3. Recurring Health Problems

A person suffering from burnout may experience frequent and recurring headaches and muscle pains, as well as feelings of indigestion and stomach aches.

4. Feeling Irritable

Finding yourself easily irritated or frustrated, even by small things, and then snapping out at others is a possible sign that you are carrying too much stress from work.

6. Self-Deprecating Feelings

When someone is suffering from burnout it can have serious effects on their mental health. A person can have a heightened sense of self-doubt, feel like a failure and even experience impostor syndrome.

A person with burnout may also experience increased feelings of isolation and detachment from their colleagues, friends and family.

7. Increased Procrastination

When burnout occurs a person may find themselves avoiding their responsibilities, regardless of how small those responsibilities may be. Instead, a person will fill their time with procrastination and indulging in comforting distractions.

8. Coping Mechanisms

During burnout, a person may be more likely to turn to other comforts and coping mechanisms such as comfort eating junk food or even consuming alcohol and/or drugs. Engaging in any habit excessively to cope with stress may be a sign of burnout.

9. Change in Sleeping and Eating Habits

Stress can mess with our natural cycle and someone who is experiencing unnaturally high levels of stress may find that their sleeping habits are altered as they end up staying up late and sleeping in.

A person may also find themselves skipping or avoiding regular meal times, having a loss of appetite at some points in the day, or craving comforting junk food at others.

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